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Zettel earns gold, Vonn disqualified

AUSTRIA'S Kathrin Zettel won the super-combi at the world championships yesterday in Val d'Isere, France, while first-leg leader Lindsey Vonn was disqualified for splitting a gate.

Zettel won in a two-run combined time of 2 minutes, 20.13 seconds.

Swiss teenager Lara Gut finished second, 0.56 seconds behind, and Elisabeth Goergl of Austria was third, 0.88 back.

Vonn led after the downhill leg and finished with the second fastest time after the slalom, but replays showed she barely split a gate in a wild run.

Vonn posed for pictures as if she had won the silver medal, then her husband Thomas gave her the bad news.

"I've been feeling so great this week that to come down hard like that today is hard to take," she said. "Sometimes when you miss a gate with a hairpin you can make the outside gate and I thought I made it. But there are other events I can win."

The American held a 1.48-second lead over Zettel going into the slalom but made two big errors on the upper section of the course and appeared to split the gate in an effort to recuperate time.

Zettel finished fourth in the super-combi at the 2006 Turin Olympics and was fifth at the last worlds in Are, Sweden, two years ago. She has won five World Cup races, all in giant slalom.

Zettel stood fifth after the downhill leg and was third-fastest in slalom.

Defending champion Anja Paerson of Sweden missed a gate in the downhill leg, losing control for an instant after posting the fastest first split time. Paerson also failed to finish the super-G that opened the championships on Tuesday, won by Vonn. "I think these World Championships are all about bad luck for me," Paerson said.

Maria Riesch of Germany finished fourth after also struggling in slalom.

The 17-year-old Gut nearly matched Vonn in the downhill portion, finishing 0.14 behind, and attacked in the slalom leg.

Gut finished fifth in her only World Cup super-combi on home snow in St Moritz in December. She has never entered a World Cup slalom and this is her first major championship.

It was also the first medal at a worlds or Olympics for Goergl, who has won two World Cup giant slaloms.

Meanwhile, the women's giant slalom could be moved from the gruelling Bellevarde piste to the Solaise course following protests by the teams, a skiing official said yesterday.

Team captains have threatened to boycott next week's team event at the championships if the women's giant slalom is held on the icy lower part of Bellevarde, saying it would be too dangerous.

"It's too hard. Only ten percent of the girls would make it to the bottom," Austria's team chief Hans Pum said.

Austrian world and Olympic champion Michaela Dorfmeister, now retired, added: "It would not be good for the sport's image to see girls all over the place on the course."

International Ski Federation (FIS) spokeswoman Rikka Rakic said: "We've been discussing the situation internally for several days.

"We cannot announce any official decision at this stage because there are several parties involved, notably the television, and several problems like moving the spectators," she said. "But Solaise is an option, obviously."

The women's giant slalom is scheduled for Thursday while the team event, in which both men and women take part, is scheduled for Wednesday.


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